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Country profile: Everything about Ireland


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Officially the flag colors have no meaning, but a common interpretation is: green represents the Irish nationalist (Gaelic) tradition; orange represents the minority supporters of William of Orange; white symbolizes a lasting truce between the nationalists and the Orange supporters.

Country: The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (part of the U.K.)

Capital: Dublin

Major cities: Dublin, Leinster, Cork, Munster

Capital of Northern Ireland: Belfast

Population: 4.89 million

Location: Western Europe, it occupies five-sixths of the island of Ireland in the North Atlantic Ocean to the west of Great Britain

Size: Slightly larger than West Virginia

Ethnic groups: 85% Irish

Language: English and Irish Gaelic or Erse are the two official languages of Ireland. English is the everyday language, but proficiency in Irish is needed for a career in academia and civil service.

Religion: 85% Roman Catholic

Obesity: 27%

Weather: Mild winters, cool summers, overcast 50% of the time

Government: Parliamentary democracy, where the president is somewhat ceremonial and the prime minister is the head of the government.

Time difference: 5 hours ahead of EST (EST+5)

Visa: Not required for U.S. citizens

Passport: One blank age required

Vaccinations: None needed

Customs: Terminal 2 in Dublin airport offers customs and immigration screenings so that passengers from Dublin are treated as domestic arrivals.

U.S. Embassy: +353 (0) 237-5850 or office.dublin@trade.gov

GDP: $241 billion

Unemployment: 10% (down from 15% in early 2012, thanks to job creation as a government priority)

Population below poverty line: 5.5%

Internet country code: .ie

Internet users: 3.9 million

Dates: day/month/year

Corruption Perception Index: 17th out of 175 countries ranked

Forbes ranking: 4th on Forbes list of Best Countries for Business in 2014

Dress for business events: Suits for men and dresses or pantsuits for women, excluding low-cut necklines. Recommendation: Dress in layers and bring a raincoat.

Interesting facts from Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands: Ireland has the lowest  rate of marriage per capita in the European Union, yet the highest fertility rate. Condoms were illegal until 1980, and then sold only by prescription to married couples.

The Irish telephone and electric utility companies automatically enter paid-on-time bills into a raffle.

Sources: Wikipedia, CIA World Factbook, U.S. Commercial Service website, World Bank Group, Ireland Franchise Association, internet